A READER’S GUIDE TO THE DOUBLE CROWN BY MARIE HEESE Introduction Why are people drawn to fiction?

Is it simply the need to be entertained? Is it an attempt to escape from everyday life, which may be boring or worse – painful, hardly endurable? Entertainment and escapism often figure in the urge to read. Yet surely there is more to reading than that. Sharing stories is an activity as old as humankind. From the small group of hunter-gatherers huddled around their fire, listening intently to the tales passed on through generations of storytellers, to the modern reader engrossed in an electronic text on Kindle, people have loved stories for many reasons. Readers are commonly driven by curiosity and the need to know what happened next; they like to discover the reasons for certain actions and events; they generally enjoy reflection on how these narrratives might apply to their own experience. The last point is important. When you discuss a novel, you need to do more than simply summarize the story or explain the plot. If you are preparing a talk for a reading circle or book club, the plot summary should not take up more than about one fifth of your time, if that. Members should ideally all have read the book already. If not, give them an outline, but keep that part of your talk brief. Then proceed to dicuss as many of the following questions as you have time for. You may, of course, come up with more questions of your own. One way to handle the talk could be for you to prepare your own answers to the questions, present them all, and then open the floor for discussion. Or, you might prefer to discuss them and take comments one by one. Alternatively, you could hold your own comments until everyone has had a say, and then you sum up the general consensus, rather like a chairperson. The main aim would be to involve as many people as possible, and allow each one to make a contribution. The questions call for judgements, not correct answers. But opinions must be justified by referring to the text.

2 Questions for discussion 1. What, according to this novelist, prompted Hatshepsut to think she could and should be the Pharaoh? List the suggested or implied reasons. Do you find them convincing? 2. 3. Why was it necessary to add the two scribes Mahu and Ahmose to the story? What do they contribute? (They are both fictitious characters.) Has the writer found a believable voice for Hatshepsut? Explain your viewpoint. The same question applies to Mahu. Would the novel have been better written in the third person, do you think? Why or why not? 4. Are you convinced by the manner in which Hatshepsut forced the priests to crown her? (See pp 126 – 130.) If yes, what do you think did the trick? If no, what bothers you? 5. Here are two contradictory comments from critics. Where do you stand on this? Why? • • 5. 6. 7. The writer should be commended for her excellent handling of the erotic content. The writers fails, miserably, to depict the Pharaoh’s sex life. The sex scenes sooner belong in Mills and Boon. How likely do you find the course of the relationship between Hatshepsut and Senenmut? If you are convinced, why is that? If not, why not? Does the depiction of the background sound like a tourist guide? Read at least two extracts to support your answer. Do you feel that the rituals are merely picturesque, or does the writer succeed in imparting a sense of the significance and importance they had? Read at least two extracts to support your answer. 8. What purpose do you think the writer had in adding the fictitious characters of Bek and Yunit? What, if anything, do they contribute to the impact of the novel? 9. Hatshepsut is faced with a moral dilemma: In order to keep her throne and her kingdom safe, she sometimes feels compelled to act in ways contrary to Ma’at

3 (the Egyptian ideal of good order and righteousness). Do you see any parallels with current events? Explain your answer. 10. Does the writer clearly and unequivocally tell us whether Hathsepsut was killed, why and by whom? Refer to the last scroll and Mahu’s additions to support your answer. 11. What is your opinion of the language used in the novel? Did you find it a bother to read? Would it have been better written in modern English? Give reasons for your answer. 12. Could Hatshepsut as depicted in this novel be described as a tragic figure in the literary sense? (A tragic hero has a personal flaw or makes an error of judgement that brings about a fall from happiness and prosperity to the opposite.) Give reasons for your answer.

4 Background information The following facts about Hatshepsut are generally accepted. • There was such a woman, and she reigned as primary pharaoh (king, not queen) for around 20 years; Egypt prospered and she instituted many building projects. Her famous funerary temple still stands. • • • She was of noble birth, the daughter of the great queen Ahmose and Pharaoh Thutmose I. She married her half-brother, Pharaoh Thutmose II, and was his queen consort. After his death, she acted as regent for his son Thutmose by a concubine for a short period; the child was small when his father died, and was crowned by the priests, but was at first too young to reign. • • After about 2 years of regency, Hatshepsut had herself crowned and effectively kept him from acquiring absolute power until he was around thirty. As Thutmose III, he became known as a great warrior pharaoh, later nicknamed the Napoleon of Egypt. So he was anything but a nonentity or a weakling. The complete opposite seems to have been the case. • During his reign, but at least 10, maybe even 20 years after her death, there seems to have been a drive to eliminate her from history. Her cartouches and images on buildings, obelisks and so forth were hacked out and statues of her were shattered and cast into a quarry. So too names and images of men who served her. Some of her buildings were destroyed and used for fill in new construction. Her name was omitted from the King Lists drawn up in Thutmose III’s time. This much is history, supported by credible evidence, deriving in the main from two primary sources: formal inscriptions on monuments, tombs and temples (the “living stone”), and from more informal writings on materials such as papyrus and ostraca, while deductions about lifestyle and customs are of course also made from artefacts and ruins discovered in archeological digs and from items stored in museums.

5 From the 1920’s, archeologists from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York were instrumental in recovering and restoring artefacts from Hatshesut’s time and reinstating her name in history. Important secondary sources are the biography of Hatshepsut by Joyce Tyldesley and the publication by the Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Catherine Roehrig based on the Hatshepsut exhibition held in 2006. Recommended reading Harris, Nathaniel. 1997. History of ancient Egypt. London: Chancellor Johnson, Paul. 1999. The civilization of ancient Egypt. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson Roehrig, Catherine H. (ed). 2006. Hatshepsut: From queen to pharaoh. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tyldesley, Joyce. 1998. Hatchepsut: The female pharaoh. London: Penguin

6 CV Marié Heese Marié Heese was born in Cape Town and attended Jan van Riebeeck High School. She studied at the University of Stellenbosch and Unisa (University of South Africa). She is qualified in political philosophy and English, holds two drama diplomas, and has a teaching diploma. Her Dlitt et Phil is in English. She taught languages at various high schools and universities, ending up at Unisa, a distance education institution, where she worked with academic staff on the development of distance learning materials. As an academic, she published various articles in academic journals. Since taking early retirement, Marié has free-lanced as an educational consultant and workshop presenter, most recently in Ethiopia, and has found time to devote to her writing. Marié Heese is the author of several works of fiction, some in English and others in Afrikaans, which is her first language: Tokkelspel (essays) Tafelberg 1972 Die pikkewouters van Amper-Stamperland (children’s story, also adapted for TV by the author and broadcast as a series) Human & Rousseau 1974, new edition published in 2008 Avonture in Amper-Stamperland (children’s story, also adapted for TV by the author and broadcast as a series) Human & Rousseau 1980 Tyd van beslissing (adult novel) Perskor 1983 The box kite summer (juvenile novel) Van Schaik 1984 Ons geheim (children’s story, published simultaneously in Afrikaans, English and Xhosa) Anansi 1993 Haiku for Africa (collection of haiku) Unisa Press 1997 She has contributed to various short story collections, including Dit kom van ver af, edited by TT Cloete, Litera 2002. She is the co-author of the following academic works:  The owl critic, with Robin Lawton, (guide to literary criticism) Nasou 1968  Revised version: The new owl critic Nasou 1988  Practical guide to reading, thinking and writing skills, with Pieter du Toit and

7 Margaret Orr. Southern Books 1995; republished 2000 by Oxford University Press. She has translated several children’s books, from Dutch and English into Afrikaans, including Dr Seuss’s Yertle the turtle (Willie die skillie) and Horton hatches the egg (Herrie broei die eier uit) Anansi 1989 & 1990. Marié is especially well known in South Africa as the author of Die uurwerk kantel, an adult novel, which was first published in 1976 (Tafelberg) and republished as a classic in 2006 (Protea Boekhuis). This novel has been adapted for the radio and for the stage, and was voted one of the best books of the 20th century by library readers in the Western Cape. Two new books appeared in 2009: • Audrey Blignault: Uit die dagboek van ‘n vrou (Tafelberg). This is an anthology of essays by Audrey Blignault, much loved Afrikaans essayist, selected and edited by her daughter Marié, and arranged to form an “autobiography”. • The Double Crown: Secret writings of the female pharaoh (Human & Rousseau). This a a historical novel about Hatshepsut, the intriguing woman who had herself crowned, thus becoming a king and a god, who reigned over ancient Egypt for more than two decades. The publishers decided to enter this novel for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in the Best Book category in 2010. This is a global competition. Marié is married to Chris Heese. They have a son, a daughter, a son-in-law and two grandsons. To their enduring sorrow, they lost their younger son in 1999. Marié and Chris currently live in Stilbaai and the Little Karoo.